By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
11 March 2014
The chairman of the Mbada diamond mining firm has contradicted claims by government ministers that profits from the sales of the gems were not reaching the Treasury.
Robert Mhlanga, a close ally of the Mugabe family, told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, that the company has realised over US$1 billion in diamond revenues since it began operations at the Chiadzwa alluvial fields.
He said 75% of that was paid into the national treasury, with the parastatal Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) being the major shareholder in the joint venture operation.
“Mbada Diamonds has contributed 75% of the revenue in the fiscus. During the crisis over civil servants’ salaries, Mbada was contributing $15 to $20 million a week to the fiscus,” Mhlanga said.
This is a serious contradiction of the claims made previously by government ministers that the diamonds were not benefitting the state in anyway. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said late last year out of a targeted $40 million expected from diamond sales in 2013, nothing had been received.
Chinamasa’s predecessor, Tendai Biti, meanwhile repeatedly stated during his tenure that no money was forthcoming from the diamond mining firms.
The country’s Vice President Joice Mujuru has also said she is “concerned” by the lack of revenue being generated by the diamond sector, an issue that has clouded the sector since 2008.
Billions of dollars are thought to have gone ‘missing’ as a result of illicit sales, smuggling and corruption. Human rights groups have previously speculated that the money was being used to fund a ‘parallel’ government, to keep the ZANU PF regime afloat.